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Fitness test undergoes changes, improvements

Adam Llorens | Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Class of 2016 will experience a new wave of fitness testing during the next academic year.

The Physical Education and Wellness Department recently implemented an additional fitness test, called a post-test, to occur in April of students’ freshman years, in addition to the swim test and pre-test in August.

Steve Bender, a visiting faculty instructor to the department, said the staff conducted a successful trial run of the post-test at the Loftus Center on members of the current freshman class last week.

“The feedback that we’ve gotten has been incredible and the test exceeded our expectations,” Bender said. “We had probably 90 to 95 percent of the students actually ‘go for it’ by pushing themselves and not blowing it off.”

The new test will consist of pushups, sit-ups, a 1.5-mile run, and sit-and-reach flexibility, Bender said. He said instructors used to administer the fitness test during the Contemporary Topics course, and the test’s components were at the discretion of the instructor.

“We decided to make it consistent and thought we’d get better results in a larger group,” Bender said. “Sometimes if you had 30 people in your Contemporary

Topics class and walked during the test, it was obvious and you stood out.”

“We thought that if there were 200 people on the track at the same time, nobody cared and nobody would notice at all,” he added.

Bender said the primary benefit of the new system would be the instant feedback on levels of muscular fitness and cardiovascular endurance.

“The student will be able to log in online and know right off the bat where their results fit in nationally,” he said. “They’ll also be able to see where they are in comparison to males and females at Notre Dame.”

A goal of the department is to show that physical education is a part of a student’s academic experience, Bender said.

“The more fit you are, the better student you’ll be as fiscal and physical go hand-in-hand,” Bender said. “We’re trying to show that fitness is a lifestyle, so if we can extend it throughout your freshman year, then you’ll have a better chance the next three years of keeping with it … Instead of a one-shot deal, we’re trying to set the tone and hopefully the it stays with you throughout your whole life.”

Overall, Bender said he was pleased with the results from the trial run and is ready for the fall.

“We always knew Notre Dame students were ultra-competitive in the classroom. That carried over to the test, too,” he said.

The fitness training learned during freshman year physical education should apply to finals week and the days leading up to it, Bender said.

“I recommend 30 minutes of some kind of cardiovascular exercise each day to get you away from the monotony of sitting in front of that computer or reading that book,” Bender said. “Sometimes you don’t think you have that 30 minutes, but when you come back, it’s just like taking a 5-Hour Energy, as you’ve got that energy and it stays with you longer.”